Page 2381 - Week 07 - Thursday, 4 August 2022

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The outcome of the recent Roe v Wade decision by the Supreme Court is something which has sent shockwaves across the globe. It is something which has, quite rightly, forced us to look inwardly and assess what it might mean for our local Canberra community and, more broadly, across Australia.

The decision in the US is not likely to immediately impact Australia, but it does highlight how important it is that we continue pushing for universal, affordable access to abortion and for local rights. Within Australia, people in all states and territories can have abortions without risk of criminal prosecution or proceedings, and I am intent on keeping it this way.

I welcome and commend the Assembly’s swift action to convene an inquiry into abortion and reproductive choice in the ACT. The inquiry’s terms of reference are comprehensive. I encourage all members of the Canberra community to provide a submission by 15 August and have your say on this important matter.

I want to ensure that we not only have safe, affordable and accessible abortion procedures available in the ACT—or free, as of today—but also that appropriate support services are in place. I am proud to be a part of the ACT Labor Party who, in the lead-up to the 2020 election, made a commitment to reduce the up-front cost of surgical abortions.

I am pleased to end on a positive note, with a quote from Marie Stopes Australia’s Head of Policy, Bonney Corbin, who has expressed confidence that Australia is tracking well in access to abortion. I quote:

We are in such a good place to keep moving forward with reproductive rights in Australia. We could be leading the world in 2030 if we stick to that trajectory.

MS VASSAROTTI (Kurrajong) (12.02): I wish to speak briefly in support of the executive motion, brought forward by the Minister for Women, to stand in solidarity on abortion rights in the United States. I, too, would like to start by thanking Ms Lawder for sharing her story. Many of us carry our own lived experiences of fertility and pregnancy journeys, both planned and unplanned, and the decisions that individuals make about their bodies are often difficult, deeply personal and have deep implications on a person’s life, no matter what decision is made in relation to an unplanned pregnancy.

What is key is that people have options and determination over their own bodies and their own lives. While the decision to no longer recognise the constitutional right to abortion in the United States had been foreshadowed, it was still a shock, both in the United States and here in Australia. While women all over the world have always struggled to access their rights, particularly when facing intersectionality because of their race, disability or socio-economic status, this decision provided a pathway for the state to withdraw access to safe and accessible abortion at an institutional scale. It is horrifying. It starkly highlights how the fight for the human rights of women is never over. It shows the continued fight to ensure that everyone’s human rights can be accessed and that we also need to vigorously protect hard-fought rights that were won by our mothers and our grandmothers.

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